Bob journal #1 : “This is official, aliens are invading Earth! They’re going through our computers and our video games to get in our minds! And who are those weird cultists all around Paris? It’s time to investigate! Maybe the guys at the micro club will be of some help to me…”
Here we go in our first discovery of gaming in Paris. As soon as the weird intro is played out, you’re put in the very noisy shoes of Bob who is apparently going out of the “Théatre des égorgeurs” which could be translated as “Cutthroat Theatre”.
The interface is nothing to write home about but it seems pretty simple: left-click to interact and right-click to open your inventory. I start with a key and a wallet containing 200 francs (a lot when I was a child, approximately 30 bucks now). One of the cult guys is handing leaflets, which I take and read even though it’s what seems to be nonsense cult advertising. Trying to take the escalator results in the guy making a strange gesture in the air and the escalator ejecting me back in the street… strange. But I guess it means I really have to give him some money to thank him for the leaflet…
|People asking for money are very persistent these days…|
Ok, so I think I have to put money in his piggybank somehow. Of course the 200 francs bill doesn’t work (your character refusing to give money to the weird cult guy…) Where to look for money, well obviously there is a pay toilet cabinet here so something must be in the money receiving slot… no? Wow at least one adventure game cliché has been avoided… clicking on the pay toilet breaks the fourth wall with your character telling you “we’re not in Operation Stealth anyway…” Funny, especially considering that as far as I know both games don’t have the same company of the same production staff. Seems to be just a friendly nod to one of the competitors. A bit like a Marvel movie promoting the latest Superman flick…
Ok, let’s look around the trash then! Behind the trashcan is hidden an umbrella containing a little key. The little key opens the truck on the left, and into it, among a lot of theatrical trash, there is a coat with a button. I take the button, put it in the piggybank, and it works. The guy lets me take his magical escalator. Two things of note here. The first is this game seems to involve a LOT of pixel hunting. Both the umbrella and the button are hard to discern from the rest of the scenery. The other thing is that nothing of all of this makes sense and it’s only the first screen of the game. The solution occurred to me because I just searched everywhere randomly. There is no logic to all of this, only trial and error. Well ok, let’s not judge the game too fast and move on to the second screen.
|Considering the Arc de Triomphe behind, we can safely assume that |
the game takes place in one of Paris most expensive neighborhoods...
As soon as I’m here, an alien soldier teleports on the second floor of the building and drops something into a grate… he looks at it and probably decides it’s not important and leaves the screen, scaring the black cat away. The room on the right seems to be the micro club. Nothing is there except a little white pixel which is a one franc coin. Looking at the grate on the upper floor it seems the alien has dropped a weird orange thingy that I can’t reach. Not even my one franc coin can unscrew the grate. Looking at the bikes, it occurs to me that I can open the saddle of the big one, recovering some tools. Great. Let’s try this screwdriver on the grate. It works! And now I have a weird thing in my inventory called a “Shoot Prg” which doesn’t seem to be useful for anything. Strangely, the orange pixel on the bench seems to be a watch blowtorched into the wood. None of my tools seem to be able to get it free so I quit trying to recover it. I try to exit the screen and get the answer “Oh I forgot to check the Beaubourg program on the telescope”. Ok why? Why game? Why do you want me to check the Beaubourg program? It seems like I’m lacking some background infos… Well whatever. I go upstairs again and put the one franc coin in the telescope. I learn that Sark, the crazy cult artist that was on TV in the intro, is exposing in Beaubourg. When I go down the stairs again, the alien goes back to check on the thing he dropped and goes right after me. I lock the door behind me so I don’t get chased. Not doing so results in the first (of many) Game over screen.
|And the music is frightening. And loud. And those eyes… |
believe me you don’t want to play this game at night.
Interestingly enough, if you try and exit the screen without the Shoot Prg, the game doesn’t let you. I guess it’s kinda reassuring concerning potential missed objects and dead-end scenarios. Doesn’t explain why I can’t do anything with the watch in the bench though… Well we’ll know later if I hit a dead-end.
A cut scene showing me on my scooter and we’re on the third screen. As I arrive, we see a guy knocking out another one and stealing his bike. The knocked out guy is dead, so we go upstairs in our friend Nono’s apartment to look for the killer. He’s right around the corner so we can still catch him up (...and do what?) In the meantime, one of the cult guys appears and makes the body disappear with a laser gun! Something fishy is definitely going on here…
|The streets of Paris are definitely less safe every day.|
I find a pneumatic hammer in the building site next door and use it to retrieve some kind of cult badge that was pressed into the tarmac where the body was. Too bad I didn’t have that on the last screen for the watch in the bench… and of course I can’t go back. I take my own scooter in hope of pursuing the killer but it’s out of fuel… In Nono’s apartment I find his scooter keys and a compressed air bottle for flat tires. Useful also because as soon as I take his scooter, my tires flatten because of the mess made by the building site. I use the compressed air bottle to fix my tires and go after the killer. Pretty simple stuff for now! If the rest of the game is like this, it’s gonna be a piece of cake!
|Spoiler alert : it won’t.|
The next screen has many more things in it, including the garage where the killer’s bike is parked. If I approach it right now I get shot by a laser. Ok guys, I’ll look into the bakery and the bar first, I get the message! Jeez…
|A Mastabar! From my childhood memories it’s the candy equivalent of concrete.|
I try to buy stuff from the bakery but the woman doesn’t have enough change to accept my 200 francs bill. Into the bar we go. I start by ordering a chocolate and, considering the usual bar creeps don’t seem to have any information, I go straight to the back door leading to the “toilets and billiard”.
|Wow 4 screens at once where to get things and informations! The game finally opens up a bit.|
My gaze is immediately taken to some kind of interesting thingy up on the top of the trophy cabinet. Especially because “I’m too short” to get it and the barman enters to yell at me if I try to get it. Okay, so what do we do considering there is a chair on the left of the cabinet and billiard cues on the right? To anyone answering “climb on the freaking chair” or “use the cues to get to the thing”, we’re obviously playing the wrong game. The answer is way simpler than that : play the pool three times so one of the balls is sent flying in the bull head on the wall, so it drops a key on the ground. Use the key to open the trophy cabinet, then search every cup for ANOTHER key then use this one to open the office, where you find a switch that turns on the electric fan, which blows one of the papers on top of the cabinet to the ground… Adventure game logic at its worst… Finally I get my hands on the paper to find… yet another gibberish cult leaflet. I’m beginning to feel a bit tired. Ok let’s move on.
|Bartender! Your strongest whisky please! And leave the bottle…|
I pay the bartender with my 200 francs bill finally managing to get a lot of spare change coins. I also get a newspaper from the counter that I don’t seem to be able to read. I then go to the bakery and order everything that isn’t nailed down, which is a liquorice stick, a nougat bar and a Mastabar. No baguette, would have been too obvious. I’m left with finally only one place to go to: the garage! I feel I’ve made some progress because approaching the door doesn’t result in my immediate elimination. The door seems to be locked, when I realize that there is a space under the door, where to put something… Adventure game cliché 101 immediately pops into mind. Using the newspaper under the door only fetch me a “It’s a bit heavy, like the news in Fascination”, which is another bit of promotion for another game, albeit a more conventional one considering it’s from the same game company.
Using the leaflets (both of them) under the door works though and pushing the liquorice through the lock drops the key on it, allowing me to pull the papers and getting the key. It would be interesting to start a contest of the most used up puzzle in an adventure game, no? I think this one is sitting comfortably at the top of the ladder, right next to the mazes and the Tower of Hanoi puzzle.
|I’ve done this puzzle so many times I’d love to check if it works in real life.|
(spoiler alert : it usually doesn’t)
Finally I enter the garage which is probably linked to the hooded cult / alien invaders. After this open world bonanza of 4 screens at once, we’re back to the usual “one screen at a time” approach. Let’s try and find some clues in there.
|Yay, a whole lot of new mess to search!|
Opening the door to the office upstairs or making any kind of noise gets me killed and there are not a lot of hotspots to interact with. Pushing the “on” button for the ramp results in a gruesome and squishy death. Except a locked cabinet upstairs and a weird spanner that seems to hide some kind of hollow shape on the wall, there is nothing to do. I admit I was a bit stuck on this one, trying to figure out anything to do around here until I finally catch a little shape right next to the ramp button that was apparently revealed by moving the spanner in the first place.
|Can’t blame me for missing this one…|
Putting the badge in the imprint opens up the locker upstairs, which reveals another spanner that you have to put in the hollow shape downstairs. Then you can press “off” on the ramp controls which turns into an elevator to a secret basement. Thank god there were not many hotspots in this room because it’s another “trial and error” game to get it done. The next room shows another point of view, a bit reminiscent of Dreamweb, that we’ll play in 1994.
|Well that conundrum is a bit complex for hiding a mere parking spot, no?|
I die quite a few times in this place. Using the remote control that sits on the counter allows me to open the trunk (where I find a cultist hood) then the back door to hide inside. If you don’t get the hood before entering the car, you die. Forget to lock the trunk you die and if you don’t put the remote control back on the counter or try to get in the driver seat, guess what? After a few tries, I manage to do everything right and I hide in the car just before a cult guy enters the room and drives the car out of there. After a few miles, we find ourselves on a strange planet. Or this car is secretly a spaceship or there is definitely a place around Paris that I don’t know of… Whatever, as usual, we will not get any explanation for that.
|We’re not in Pigalle anymore, Toto…|
Finally it’s a good spot to call it a day and stop playing for now. We’re now stranded on some kind of strange planet. I’m sorry if I look a bit critical about the game but I have to confess that, even with all the logic jumps and the very caricatural puzzles, the weirdness of all this kinda pulls me toward the rest of the game. See you soon to see if my motivation stays intact after a bit more of this.
Session time : 1 hour
Total time : 1 hour
Inventory : Key micro, Wallet with coins, Shoot Prg, Hood.
Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There’s a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!